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Copyright for Students: What Can I Copy?

This guide provides copyright information which is relevant to students. Please note that the information is for your guidance only – it is not legal advice.

Your Work and Copyright

  • Any original work created by students is protected by Copyright.
  • Permission is required from you by anyone wanting to use your work.

Fotos-PDX. (2010). [Visual arts students]. Flickr. under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

  • Plagiarism occurs when a student uses someone else’s words or materials in their work and pretends they are their own.
  • If the student has used a lot without that person’s permission, copyright infringement may also occur.

Source: Smartcopying

Read our guide on APA Referencing and Plagiarism for more information on avoiding plagiarism.

When can I use copyright material?

The Copyright Act's 'Fair Dealing' exception allows the use of copyright material without permission and with certain limitations for the following purposes:

  • Research or study
  • Criticism or review
  • Parody or satire
  • Reporting news
  • Disability access

Student use will normally come under fair dealing for research and study purposes.

Check out the fact sheet from the Australian Copyright Council for more information on Fair Dealing.

How much is Fair?

Students are allowed under the Fair Dealing section of the Copyright Act to copy a reasonable portion for the purposes of research and study.

The suggested guidelines are:

  • One chapter of a book, or 10% of the pages
  • 10% of the words if the work is in electronic form/online
  • One article from a journal/magazine or newspaper (more if the articles are on the same subject matter in the same issue)
  • Extracts only (not whole works)


Students must attribute the authors of any work that they use in assignments. This is actually required under the Copyright Act and considers the Moral Rights of the creator.

Attribution or acknowledgement of sources requires the correct use of a Referencing style.

Read our guide on APA Referencing and Plagiarism for more information on how to use the APA style.